Sunday, 21 July 2013

Healthy ways to manage stress

I am the type of person who doesn't realise just exactly how much I get stressed. It doesn't even  have to be anything major, just lots of life’s little demands that keep building up. Whilst I am dealing with all these “little things”, my body gets tenser and tenser. It’s not until I get a massage, have a good laugh or take a deep breath and relax my shoulders that I feel just how stressed I have become!

Recently I've taken stock of my stress levels, and discovered some ways to ease the load and relax. There is no exact way to manage stress, it’s simply finding an activity that you  are so engaged in that your mind becomes freed from  its worries.  We all have stress to deal with, and it is possible for each of us to cope with it. Successful people are not those that don’t have any stress, they are just successful at managing stress.  Consider trying some of the following approaches to help manage stress.

Option 1: Do some physical activity

It may be hard to find time to exercise in your day but getting the body moving is one of the best ways to relieve stress and stay healthy. Put on some music and dance like no one’s watching. Play on the Wii, play WiiFit, Zumba or Sports Resort. Get outdoors and go for a walk, run or bike ride.  Physical activity was the nature of human existence before the explosion in technology (we didn’t have cars and we didn’t have machines to do a lot of our housework). Get your blood flowing and your  heart pumping and your stress levels will plummet!

Option 2: Laugh

When you laugh, all the muscles in your body relax. If you are stressed out and have a good laugh you will feel just how tense your body really is. Visit YouTube and find a clip of a funny video. Watch a comedy show that you enjoy.  Remember a time when you had yourself in stitches, and soon enough a grin will be likely to come to your face.

Option 3: Reward yourself by doing an enjoyable activity

We all have activities which we enjoy doing. Reading, shopping, sewing, watching TV, going to see a movie, gardening, cooking, having a massage; all of these activities are highly effective at taking your mind off your worries. Really engage in what you are doing to refocus your mind away from stress.

Option 4: Talk to friends or family

When you get stressed you may have a tendency to bottle up your problems. Talking to friends and family can help take your mind off your worries, and a problem shared is usually a problem solved. Family and friends want to help, and be there for you, even if you think you can manage on your own. There is no need to carry a heavy load alone.  

Option 5: Talk to a counsellor

Sometimes stress can get so overwhelming it can be extremely hard to get perspective on how to deal with it. Talking to acounsellor can provide a completely objective view on your problems without any emotional attachments.  Counsellors are more readily available than you might think. Community organisations like Lifeline have a 24 hour  telephone counselling service, and many workplaces offer  confidential counselling for employees.

Unhealthy ways to cope with stress

Choosing a healthy way to manage stress may be hard, especially given that there are a range of easy, unhealthy ways to deal with stress. Often these are the first port of call for many of us. Who hasn’t had that chocolate bar or an extra drink after work at some point after having a bad day? Smoking, gambling, and other risky behaviours are all ways people choose to cope with stress. In the short term, you may feel better. But in the long run, these types of behaviours will damage your health, adding another unnecessary stress to your life. We all cope with stress in different ways. Sometimes we might choose to manage stress in a healthy manner, other times we might reach for the chocolate bar. Stress is a part of everyday life, so it is a life skill to learn and practice the stress management technique that works best for each of us. 

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